...thoughts expressed here are not necessarily final.

March 13, 2006 Leapblogging

Widespread wireless access being touted as the force behind the net's next wave of innovation.

As more media become increasingly available in digital formats, and traditional models of media packaging and distribution start to unravel, "the customer is king" is fast becoming the industry's new catchphrase.

Does Conversion or Regeneration come first?

First I must say that from the perspective of a timeless God, God has no requirement for the ordo salutis. The restraints of cause and effect impinge upon our creatureliness, but not our eternal God. However, God chooses to allow His rational, time-bound creatures to live with a sense logical progression, so it is not wrong to try to ascertain how it is that God in relation to us is a God of order. Key to any discussion is to remember the primacy of the glory of God in His salvation.

This theological point has incredible impact for the Christian life, and involves the perennial debate of the relationship between the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. A narrow, Biblical path is required to navigate the issues without falling into the byways where the free will of man has long reigned sovereign and supreme. To err on this side is to affirm that God in some way limits himself in relationship with his creatures and turn the notion of effectual calling into some sort of cosmic rape. To err on the other side would be to make the will of man an insignificant meaningless construct.

Millard Erickson says that effectual calling involves an extraordinary presentation of the message of salvation, and proposes the order of salvation as effectual calling, conversion, and then regeneration. I disagree. For communication and conveyance of a message to occur, two living beings must relate. As I will show, the biblical witness is that man is dead in trespasses and sin, and cannot understand any such message. Logically, when the call comes from the Holy spirit, that same Spirit must quicken the recipient to enable reception.

As I understand the question, since conversion involves active faith, the question is a reframing of the question of whether regeneration precedes faith, the debate between a synergistic and monergistic view of salvation.

Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Whitefield and surprisingly, even Aquinas agree that regenerating grace is operative grace on God's part, not cooperative grace, as the Catholic church believes today.

The Holy Spirit and Regeneration

None would deny that after a person is regenerated, he cooperates with God by exercising faith, his own faith, by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit will quicken and open one's ears to the preaching of the Gospel.

I apply to a monergistic view of regeneration based on the Biblical witness, with the Holy Spirit as the one efficient agent of regeneration. Regeneration occurs when man's spirit, brought to life by the resurrection power of the Holy Spirit is placed in union with Christ. The first place one must look is to the scriptural data, and based on the data, determine where the logical flow will take us.

What is conversion? The Bible seems to define conversion as a response centered in the responsibility of man. It involves turning to embrace God in faith. Saving faith involves having believed one thing, now the truth of God, rather the person of Christ is believed and cherished. In Acts 3:19 and 26:20 the concepts of repentance and turning appear together. This is Luke's way of referring to what Paul refers to as faith. The sinner is cleansed, convicted, and turns from self to embrace the Lordship of Christ as the basis of new life.
What does the Bible say?

In Genesis 2:7 we see "Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being." In Genesis 2:17 we learn of God's will for man ,and an associated penalty: "but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die." As the bearer of the imago Dei, Adam sinned and received the just penalty for that sin as the corporate head of the human race- spiritual death. Therefore, now all are born in Adam, and under the dominion of Sin. (Rom 5:12-19). (Rom 6:6, 17, 20).

Yet God is merciful. Adam did not die physically, as there could be no hope for mitigation of the curse once physically dead. You shall surely die! But spiritual death holds the possibility of redemption and resurrection by the power of the Spirit. The mitigation of the curse comes in Genesis 3:16-17 when the Intercessor sovereignly comes to the garden to this man and woman who could do nothing to appease the wrath of God, and mercifully covers them in the skins of part of the creation they were commanded to protect and steward. Notice that they hide, they do not reach out to God in faith. Then amazingly, hope for the generations is restored with the sovereign, gracious (and unrequired) promise of the seed of the woman who would crush the serpent's head.
So there is nothing man can do about the consequence of Sin. Romans 6:23 says "For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord."

The question now remains, "How dead is 'Dead?'" Ephesians 2:1 says "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…" Is there any stimulus that can gain a response from a dead man? If your spirit is dead, how dead is it? Unbelievers are under the dominion of the world, the flesh, and the devil (Eph 2:2-3). Paul, writing with authority, locates the time when regeneration occurs in Ephesians 2:5 'even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)".

To reiterate, Mankind neither pleases God nor seeks after God, and in his natural state does not even possess the ability to understand the things of God, nor can he submit to the law of God. Consider the Biblical witness:

* Jer 17:9 Heart is deceitful, desperately wicked
* Rom 3:9-12 All under sin; none righteous, not even one; none who understands; none who seeks for God; none who does good;not even one; no fear of God.
* Rom 8:5-8 Cannot please God; hostile to God
* Rom 14:23 Whatever does not proceed from faith is sin
* 1 Cor 2:14 Cannot understand the things of God
* 2 Cor 4:4 The God of this world has blinded the minds
* Eph 2:3 Man by nature an object of wrath

The Lord Jesus affirmed that the dead ear cannot hear and therefore the blinded mind cannot believe. In John 8:43-44, Jesus asked "Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say." Revelation 3:20 "Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me." This verse must be read in the light of all the Scriptural witness, as Jesus had previously said, "You do not believe because you are not part of my flock. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." John 10:26-27. So only those of his flock will in fact hear and open the door.

Jesus made rather clear reference to regeneration in his statement in John 3:3. In reply to Nicodemus, Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again." Note that Jesus does not tell Nicodemus he must "have faith."

Next I would offer as evidence several Biblical pictures of regeneration: Sweeping of the leaven from the house- we must be cleansed by the washing produced by regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit: Titus 3:5. We cannot clean ourselves. The Psalmist declared, "He pulled me out of the pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, making my footsteps firm" in Psalm 40. The lost cannot accomplish this by faith. In the context of the parable of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son those who are lost can do nothing to save themselves. The Prodigal "came to his senses" not by his own power.

The New Covenant revealed in Jeremiah 31:33 also indicates an orderliness which gives primacy to the Word and the activity of God: 1. God places His law within us. 2. God writes it on our hearts; 3. He will be our God; and finally, 4. We will be His people.

John 1:12-13 tells us "but to as many as received Him to them he gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God. The prerequisite for believing is here defined as being born of God. Faith is confident trust based on God's promise as understood through His word Luke 1:20; 24:25 the book of acts clarifies faith is "belief in the Lord." Acts 5:14; 9:42; 11:21; 14:23; 18:8 or "belief in Jesus" 3:16; 19:4.

The Will of Man

The faith we exercise is really our faith. God does not believe for us. I beieve that the exaltation of man's will to a point where regeneration is dependent upon it is (Decisionism) is at its root man centered and elevates free will to a state of sovereignty that trumps God's will. This is not the Biblical witness. The will of man is only free (and then within boundaries) once regeneration occurs. Until such time men are in bondage to evil, and hence they have no inclination or desire to do what is right or to turn to Jesus Christ. We are at enmity, enemies of God, suppressors of the truth. God, however, because of his amazing grace has "made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:5). Paul exercises apostolic revelation here. Dead men do not cooperate with grace.

We are told that we are to "be made new" we cannot make ourselves new. Some will say that the Spirit brings man to a point of conversion without actually regenerating him. This is the Roman Catholic doctrine of prevenient grace. I do not deny that the mind and fallen will of man can apprehend facts. Romans 1:16-23 attests to the fact that due to the reality of the imago Dei and the witness of creation, they are without excuse. However, without regeneration, fallen man will not embrace and cherish that truth as treasure.

We have victory by the Word of God, wherein is life. Jesus says plainly in Matthew 4:4 , "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'" In 1 Peter 1:3 Peter tells us that "God caused us to be born again into a living hope." Again Peter reiterates, in 1 Peter 1:23 "We are born again not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God."

What God requires of us, faith, repentance and to love him, he grants to us in Christ (2 Tim 2:25; Eph 2:5, 8) as the the Holy Spirit sovereignly dispenses grace (John 3:8).

I will appeal to an article by Dr. Tom Schreiner, (see here) wherein he quotes these verses from 1 John that also demonstrate that regeneration precedes faith : 1 John 2:29; 1 John 3:9; 1 John 4:7;1 John 5:1).

"In every instance the verb "born" (gennaô) is in the perfect tense, denoting an action that precedes the human actions of practicing righteousness, avoiding sin, loving, or believing that Jesus is the Christ."

"… it is clear that practicing righteousness, avoiding sin, and loving are all the consequences or results of the new birth. But if this is the case, then we must interpret 1 John 5:1 in the same way, for the structure of the verse is the same as we find in the texts about practicing righteousness (1 John 2:29), avoiding sin (1 John 3:9), and loving God (1 John 4:7). It follows, then, that 1 John 5:1 teaches that first God grants us new life and then we believe Jesus is the Christ…We see the same truth in Acts 16:14. God opens Lydia’s heart and the consequence is that she pays heed to and believes in the message proclaimed by Paul."

Jesus said in John 6:44, "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day." However, based on the foregoing witness of scripture, I believe from the connection of drawing and resurrection life in this verse that this "drawing" is not what some would designate as prevenient grace, but rather the conception of new life. Those who are given to Christ are placed IN Christ, the source of Life. Jesus had previously said, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out." (John 6:37).

In conclusion,I recognize that biblical language is sometimes confusing on the points elucidated above. From my understanding of the Scriptures, I must conclude that regeneration precedes faith, and therefore conversion. This conclusion is one that is faithful to the Biblical witness, and one that give the primacy and Glory to God alone in effecting our salvation. As we are graced to receive the free gift of God, so are we graced to live in the life that is therein conceived. Soli Deo Gloria!

Sheltering Shepherd

You lead us to the place Where we are safe
You lead us so we learn to walk by faith
For we do not know the path home, we do not see the way
And there are so many pastures that would lead us all astray.
There are so many beasts who would have us as their prey.

But you are the sheltering shepherd
You bring us to refuge and rest
You are the sheltering shepherd
Who names us and knows what is best
We come to the sheepfold so safe and secure
When we are lost you will find us for sure
For you are the sheltering shepherd
And no matter where we may roam
Who will guard us and guide us to home

You will lead us by the waters so still
You will care when we're thirsty and dirty and ill
You will care and will feed us in green pastures
You will save us from the slaughter and keep us secure
You will protect your flock as your own
We hear your voice and we follow you home
You are the sheltering shepherd
And with you we are never alone.

Anthony Foster
March 12, 2006

Crystal Sea

There is a mountain and on it a fountain
That flows continually from a rugged tree.
To follow it's course You must go to its source
It flows from the cross of Calvary
On to the shores of eternity
And empties itself into the crystal sea.
Almighty glory flows
Almighty glory shows  itself abroad.
Oh the mercy and grace that covers me
Almighty glory flows
Almighty glory grows
As it makes its way  unto the crystal sea.
There is no tempest there
No shipwrecks, no despair
The peaceable fruit of righteousness abides
There is no feat that we should drown
There where we cast down our crowns
As we walk the water there at Jesus side.

There is a river that flows on forever
And it sweeps us up within its flowing stream
On and on it will run until the journey is done
The mighty righteous river of the redeemed
Flows on to the shores of eternity
And empties itself into the crystal sea.

They say it's not the destination
But the journey that is key
But my home and my salvation
Is at its end
So I must disagree.
Almighty glory flows
Almighty glory shows  itself abroad.
Oh the mercy and grace that covers me
Almighty glory flows
Almighty glory grows
As it makes its way  unto the crystal sea.

Anthony Foster March 12, 2006


Lord, reach the Unreachable
In this darkness show us how
To show the mercy of the Lord
Jesus touch them now!
The outcasts are attracted
To this  love that we have known
Let us love so much that we will act
We can't leave them here alone

Love and compassion, grace to reach out
To show all the world what salt and light is about
Attracting the outcasts, drawing them in
To finish the task All power is given
Greater is He who is in us and His power is outpoured
We are the church of Jesus Christ the Lord.

Faith and not fear, not just mere words
Setting men free from the lies they have heard.
For wherever there's a prisoner there are chains you cannot see
Breaking through, take us through to the place  where we should be.
We've all been outcasts if We know the Lord
The world is no friend and its venom is outpoured
But the black sheep and white sheep are all of one flock
We belong to one Shepherd  sheltering  in one rock.

Love and compassion, grace to reach out
To show all the world what salt and light is about
Attracting the outcasts, drawing them in
To finish the task All power is given
Greater is He who is in us and His power is outpoured
We are the church of Jesus Christ the Lord.

Anthony Foster March 12, 2006

Calm Me Jesus

Calm me Jesus, tell me "peace, be still!"
Lord my head is spinning here in the center of your will
Calm me Jesus, my heart's a raging sea
Soothe my troubled spirit, place your peace in me.

Anxiety is in my heart and it has weighed me down
Sure as the sparks fly upward so trouble comes around
But you can calm the raging storm that would shipwreck me
Yes you can quell the tumult and you will set me free

I know you've called me to this but I kick against the goads
I can't discern which way to go as I choose between two roads
You found me bound and struggling and eased my troubled mind
Lrord do the same for me right now as to you I'm resigned.

Calm me Jesus, tell me "peace, be still!"
Lord my head is spinning here in the center of your will
Calm me Jesus, my heart's a raging sea
Soothe my troubled spirit, place your peace in me.

Anthony Foster March 13, 2006

Scavenged from the net...

News on Google book search...

Piper alternative archives... Latest news is that by the time Dr. Piper returns to the pulpit in August, All 25 years of his messages will be at desiringgod.org.

From the DG site: "March 1, 2006: John Piper is on sabbatical March 1 – July 31. Please pray for him as he rests, studies, and writes. Although John Piper will not be preaching new sermons or writing new Fresh Words during this time, we will continue adding new content to our site. We are working to post the audio version for all 25 years of sermons online by the time John Piper returns, and we will introduce archived sermon manuscripts that have not previously been posted online. Also John Piper will occasionally send short audio updates for our web audience as well as a few short excerpts from the new book that he will be writing."

Also see www.archive.org

and www.sermonindex.net

and here is another cool worship graphics site that has freebies...

Top (and bottom) magazine covers of the year...

It's ben ten years since the great PC game the Neverhood came out... here's the Neverhood Press Kit and Doug TenNapel's blog...


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From the personal weblog of Anthony Foster @http://anthonyfoster.com/blog/